New numbers show teacher prep numbers still falling

New numbers show teacher prep numbers still falling

(Calif.) Despite school districts statewide complaining about a shortage of credentialed applicants, a new report shows enrollment in teacher preparation programs in California continues to decline.

The most recent data shows that during 2013-14,  enrollment dipped about 5 percent to just under 19,000, according to a report released this week by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

School and state officials have said that districts will need to hire as many as 21,000 teachers annually over the next five years to keep up with attrition and growth.

With the improving economy and the rebound that most school budgets have experienced in the past two years, policy makers had expected that interest in the teaching profession would also pick up. The new report isn’t all bad news, however, as the rate of enrollment decline has slowed considerably since the nearly 25 percent drop between 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Specifically, enrollment in teacher preparation programs throughout California totaled 18,984 in 2013-14, down from the prior year when 19,333 enrolled.

California is not alone in dealing with a teacher shortage. Districts in many other states report having similar challenges, including Florida, Nevada, Georgia, North Dakota and Indiana.

Most experts blame the deep cuts to education forced by the recession and subsequent layoff of thousands of teachers across the nation for souring prospective educators. But there are also some signs that the profession has suffered a loss of status in recent years, causing some young people to dismiss the job out-of-hand.

The problem is especially acute in regions where job growth has been highest – the Bay Area, for instance. Oakland and San Francisco both began having trouble filing teacher positions last year and even more difficultly this year.

Linda Darling-Hammond, chair of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, has said one big step that the state could take to help the job market is to restore grants and other incentive programs that were cut during the recession.

Money to help students with college tuition, for instance, as well as providing free induction training to newly hired teachers.

Two big areas of concern remain special education and those trained to teach any of the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and math.

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